The Fall of Velsparge: A Legend of Ancient Days
In the Time of Chaos, when horrors beyond human ken walked the land, few were more terrifying than the juggernaut of evil known as Velsparge. A Titantic fiend embodying madness incarnate, Velsparge stood 3 leagues tall, with a hundred hideous tendrils in place of arms. The daemon’s merest touch corrupted all around it, and it left a legion of vile spawn in its trail, each a revolting mockery of all that is good and pure.
Valsparge ruled over the mad things of Chaos, fell horrors that crawled and flopped across the scarred lands of the young planet. Nothing seemed able to contest its hellish might. Confident in its supremacy, the behemoth paid no attention as powers opposed to its evil were called into existence: Champion spirits called to bring sanity to a world desperately in need. Spirits of justice, order, love, and beauty arose, called by the land’s need: Gods or angels of surpassing purity and power.
When the Spirit of Wisdom’s clarion call of judgment rang across the land, the power of the land itself rose to crush the powers of Chaos that walked upon it, entombing them beneath mountains of stone or throwing them into distant realms of the sky. Among these horrors, one voice remained, one terror powerful enough to battle the planet itself: Dread Velsparge.
The daemonic horror rose up into the sky, bellowing an incoherent challenge to the young gods of earth. Eager for battle, the titan’s uncountable limbs each grasped the hilt of a huge, unearthly blade: Jagged swords of black fire wrought in alien dimensions, able to sunder reality itself. The fiend’s voice was like thunder and its hundreds of blades clashed together, flashing like unholy lightning. The dozens of holy spirits that answered the challenge seemed like motes of bright fire in comparison with the ancient evil they faced. Higher and higher they rose, bearing weapons of purest light and armored with robes woven in dreams of righteousness.
Hundreds of miles above the land, the battle began in earnest: Lances of brilliant power clashed against blades of darkest wrath. One by one, the bright spirits fell, their beautiful light waning as their strength failed them. Dozens were slain or corrupted by Velsparge’s hellish touch, yet their efforts were not in vain. The daemon grew weaker as blow after blow tore through its mountainous frame, tearing huge chunks of its essence from it, sending them plummeting down to earth like falling stars.
The fury of the spirits’ bright fire would not be denied. In the silent darkness far above the earth, the Chaos-spawned creature was pulled apart, its monstrous bones and sinew no match for the righteous fury of the surviving spirits: One by one, the monster’s limbs and joints plummeted down from the sky in a rain of fiery doom. With a flash of hellish light and the roar of a thousand thunders, the remains of the thing that was Velsparge slammed down into the sea, shaking the earth. A pillar of fire rose miles into the air, as the shock of its fall sent forth a wave of black doom, an unstoppable tsunami destroying all in its path.
When the boiling waters died down, a new sea had been born, filled with islands, each one marking where one of dread Velsparge’s limbs or weapons had plummeted from the sky. The powers of the earth had buried them forever beneath mountains of volcanic stone.
Some versions of the legend suggest that Velsparge was not truly destroyed in its final battle against the forces of Order. Supposedly, the periodic volcanic eruptions and tsunami that disturb the lands around the Tarakhen Sea result from the immortal daemon’s attempts to escape its prison.
The Sea of the South
The Tarakhen Sea is a roughly circular ocean immediately south of the continent of Airent. To the East, the Tarakhen is bordered by the archipelago of the Heron Isles, while the sea’s western extent is defined by the mountainous land of Iren. The red-tinted waters of this warm sea hold many secrets, with the legend of Velsparge only the oldest.
The Tarakhen is not particularly deep, with only the Gireath Trench reaching more than 80 fathoms, but little of its extent has been accurately charted, as the undersea empires of the meremenne are actively hostile to surface vessels charting their territories. Most local communities pay tribute to their undersea neighbors, ensuring that their commerce is undisturbed by the merfolk.
Areas near the Gireath Deeps are claimed by the mysterious batrakhones, a species of strange and alien habits: While they are not actively hostile to the folk of the surface world, shuddersome rumors come from the nearby islands. Few seek to traffic with these legendary dwellers in the deep, for their strange demonolatries horrify all right-thinking folk.
Islands of the Tarakhen Sea
Those that travel upon the Tarakhen are generally careful to avoid the sea’s numerous poorly-charted islands and atolls. Many of these lands are surrounded with ship-devouring reefs, labyrinths of lethal coral. Others are the dwellings of ferocious monsters or territorial tribesmen. Rumor and legend speak of terrors on some islands that would shatter a seaman’s mind: Such tales are exaggerated, but often hold kernels of truth.
Many of the islands have acquired names based on their outlines, such as the Sword Islands, Eye Atoll, Mandible Cay (...allegedly home to a reclusive artificer, known for his strange golems), Leg Island, Arsy Reef, Tendril Island, Little Tendril Island, and Tendril Brac. Of course, in sailors’ tales these lands each supposedly entomb an appropriate portion of fallen Velsparge. Many of the old salts of the area eagerly inflict unlikely tales of horror on any "lubber" they encounter, following them up with obnoxious practical jokes. Newcomers traveling the seas soon grow used to "The Tale of Velsparge’s Tendril" (an ominous tentacle that creeps aboard ships, seeking the rest of its body), followed by the discovery of foul-smelling octopus parts hidden in their gear…
Some of the Tarakhen’s islands have developed close ties with the mainland. Known for their spices and exotic woods, these lands have become colonies of the Hegemony or are under the protection of the Free Cities. A few islands are known for their quarries: Massive slabs of unusual golden chalcedony are mined from them. This beautiful stone is laboriously transported to the mainland, where it is prized for its use in elegant architecture.
Those nations that border upon the Tarakhen Sea often maintain substantial naval forces there. The Free City of Pont Folous keeps a well-maintained flotilla in the Gulf of Fainborne, a fleet they jointly maintain with their allies among the other cities of the peninsula. The magically-reinforced galleys of the Hegemony are also present in force. Persistent rumors speak of the Hegemon’s attempts to dominate local clans of merfolk and force them to aid his forces, but his efforts have apparently been fruitless, as the meremenne empires seemingly remain hostile to his land’s shipping.